Upward Bound Volunteers Help Clear the Lehigh Portland Trails

posted in: News | 0

Last weekend, volunteers with the Upward Bound program of Neosho County Community College converged on the Lehigh Portland Trails to help clear the trail corridor.

Rick Danley of the Iola Register was on hand to file a report:

Soon Iola will be as known for the trails that encircle the town as it is for the courthouse square at its center. And an aerial view of the county — showing the Prairie Spirit Trail dropping in from the north, the Southwind coming up from Humboldt and the Lehigh Trail hugging the quarry lake to the southwest — will be visible proof, in a time when all the talk is of small towns dying, of the local residents who poured their energy and effort into a project in their own backyard.

The latest efforts are on the Lehigh Portland Trails, which journey through the woods along Elm Creek near the old cement plant and include a branching system of single-track mountain bike trails.

A core group of volunteers has cut trees, sectioned limbs, burned brush and smoothed paths during the inclement months so that locals and tourists will have use of the trails’ features sometime this summer.

Last Saturday, though, Lehigh volunteers received a boost to their efforts in the form of 35 high school students, participants in the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound, a federally funded college-prep program whose local office is on the campus of Neosho County Community College, serves needs-based students in Iola, Humboldt, Erie and Chanute.

“It’s mainly for low-income, first-generation students,” said Kaley Eastman, the group’s academic coordinator. “Our goal is to get them to college when they originally may not have been able to.”

The program organizes community service outings, life skills classes, ACT prep, and much more; it accommodates 55 students, selected through an application process, from the four target high schools; and benefits each year from a Department of Education grant worth $250,000.

Read more: Upward Bound volunteers make happy trails

The crew worked from about 9am to noon, assisting local leaders in pulling brush and burning debris.

Here are a few photos:

The Upward Bound student volunteers pose for a group photo near the quarry lake.
Some of the Upward Bound student volunteers pose for a group photo near the quarry lake.
Volunteers gathering and preparing to begin work.
Volunteers gathering and preparing to begin work.
Volunteers managing the controlled burns of trail debris.
Volunteers managing the controlled burns of trail debris.
Volunteers feed the flames.
Volunteers feed the flames.
Student volunteers being interviewed by Iola Register reporter Rick Danley.
Student volunteers being interviewed by Iola Register reporter Rick Danley.
Volunteer David Lee with his backhoe, which made short work of piling brush for burning.
Volunteer David Lee with his backhoe, which made short work of piling brush for burning.

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out and made this a record-setting day. Between the students and local help, we had nearly 50 people making progress!